Winners of Feel the Heat Awards announced on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day

Winners of the 2016 Feel the Heat Awards are being announced today to mark Fuel Poverty Awareness Day. 

The Community Energy Wardens Project run by the North Wales housing association Grŵp Cynefin beat off stiff competition to be crowned overall winner of the awards, with Speakeasy Advice Centre and Carmarthenshire County Council named as runners up.

The awards, which are run by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action Cymru, and supported by energy company SSE SWALEC, rewards projects which recognise and showcase best practice in tackling fuel poverty and championing local efforts to promote affordable warmth.

Carole Morgan-Jones, Director, NEA Cymru commented:  “The judging panel were extremely impressed by the diverse range of creative projects which are being undertaken across Wales to help people in their local communities struggling to afford to heat their homes.  Grŵp Cynefin’s project stood out as an initiative that shows how tackling fuel poverty can bring wider benefits to the local community through improved employment prospects and reducing carbon emissions.”

Mark Isherwood, Chair of the Cross Party Group on Fuel Poverty commented: “I want to offer my congratulations to Grŵp Cynefin, Speakeasy Advice Centre and Carmarthenshire County Council on the excellent work they are doing to tackle fuel poverty across Wales.  Schemes like these are having a real impact on people’s lives.”

Frances Muller, Customer Relations Manager at SSE SWALEC, said:SSE SWALEC is proud to support the Feel The Heat Awards, and we were very impressed with the standard of entries this year.  All have showcased the innovative and impactful ways groups throughout Wales are providing people in vulnerable circumstances with advice and support to help them manage their energy costs.”

The winners were:

Overall Winner: Grŵp Cynefin

Community Energy Wardens is an innovative community based project run by housing association Grŵp Cynefin.  The project tackles fuel poverty in deprived communities in North Wales by providing training and work experience for unemployed local people who can then support local residents with practical advice on how to save energy in the home and reduce their energy bills.

Since 2011, 21 local people have benefited from paid work experience and high quality training enabling them to help over 1100 residents to become more energy efficient in the home and save money.   As a result the vast majority of those trained have since gained employment or moved on to other training opportunities.  The award money will be used to further develop the project.

Further information about the work of Grŵp Cynefin and the project can be found on their website.

Runner Up: Speakeasy Advice Centre

Established in 2011, the Energy Advice Project provides specialist fuel debt advice and assistance on a range of energy related issues to vulnerable families and individuals across Wales.  Most of the beneficiaries are disabled or suffering from ill health in addition to experiencing financial hardship.  Clients are provided with a range of help to manage their energy debts in the short term and can also be referred to partner agencies to help resolve other long term debt problems and improve their financial stability.

To date, the scheme has helped over 900 clients to negotiate affordable payment plans with their energy suppliers, and assisted nearly 500 households clear over £150,000 of energy bill areas.  As a result of resolving their energy debt problems clients are less stressed and anxious about managing their energy bills in the future.  The award money will be used to make it easier to reach out to new clients and partner organisations.

Further information about the work of Speakeasy Advice Centre and the project can be found on the Speakeasy website.

Runner Up: Housing Services, Carmarthenshire County Council

Running for the past 3 years, Carmarthenshire County Council has established 14 fuel clubs within the county.  The oil clubs allow tenants to come together with other residents to buy their oil in bulk purchases, thereby enabling them to obtain the cheapest possible price.  Over 2300 local people are now members and are regularly purchasing their oil collectively with average savings of over £10,000 a year.

The project has also linked up with two credit unions in the county to provide low interest loans to fuel club members, enabling them to pay the loan back in manageable weekly instalments, making paying for energy more manageable and affordable.  The award money will be used to create more fuel clubs in other deprived areas.

Further information about the oil clubs can be found here.

The awards will be presented at NEA Cymru’s fuel poverty forums taking place in March.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  • For all enquiries, please contact Carole Morgan-Jones tel 029 2022 9322 / 07720591403
  • NEA is the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity campaigning for affordable warmth. For further details visit nea.org.uk
  • The Feel the Heat Awards are being supported by SSE S
  • Fuel poverty results from a combination of factors: low household income; energy prices; and inadequate heating and insulation standards. The consequences of fuel poverty range from psychological distress, social isolation and physical discomfort to illness and, in the most extreme cases, premature death
  • In Wales, fuel poverty is defined as the need to spend over 10% of household income on fuel costs to maintain adequate warmth for health and comfort. Almost 1 in 3 (30%) of households in Wales were living in fuel poverty in 2012, equating to 386,000 homes. 328,000 of these are believed to be vulnerable households (containing a child, older person, or someone who is disabled or has a long-term illness). Wales Fuel Poverty Projection Tool Report
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